• Callum Holgate

Jelly on the Mind

So, writing again in the minutes I’ve managed to scrape together before heading to another day at work, I thought I’d do something a little different in the blog post for today’s poem ‘We Made a Jelly, You and I.’ Rather than dissect and analyse my own poem, I thought I’d rather explain the process of creating it; how my mind came to the imagery I decided upon, and the many links in the chain of thought that resulted in the final form of the poem that I find myself considering ‘finished.’

This poem was actually born on my day off this Monday, whereupon I found myself taking a day almost entirely to myself and visiting a cafe in Southampton which is rapidly becoming one of my favourite places to be. Originally my plan was simply to take a few hours to myself, read The Poetry Review, and eat some really good vegan food, all before going about the litany of chores I had planned for the day; however, I brought my notebook and some pencils in case the hunger for writing came about. Sure enough, an hour of reading poetry, and the cosy setting of a warm café on a rainy day was enough to have me dying to write. I finished my food, hopped from the table to the little bar by the window, and set about writing.

In total, I wrote five poems at that window, some long, some very short, and of all of them ‘We Made a Jelly, You and I’ ended up being the last of them all. Birthed from an ongoing thought of my flatmate, the night prior, joking about a sudden urge he had to buy and make jelly with no real thought to it, as well as some social concerns made especially relevant in recent weeks, I was armed with an idea, and a drive to write. What ended up coming from my pencil, however, was the weakest of all the poems I had written that day, in my opinion. I thought the idea I had led with had begun to dissipate throughout, and so too had the form of the poem, leading to something I was not entirely happy with. Saying this, I do think it is impossible to be totally happy with any poem, there is always room for improvement, and for tweaking, however at first, I believed this simply to be a poem that would live its life condemned to the pages of my notebook.

It wasn’t until coming to type it up on my computer that I then gained a new-found appreciation for the poem. In typing it up, I engaged in a process I normally don’t spend a lot of time on with my poetry: redrafting and editing. For the most part, I like to think of my poems as a stream of consciousness; a collection of my thoughts in the raw form in which they came about, encompassing my emotions, thoughts and feelings in the exact manner they first appeared. While this usually works well, I do occasionally feel the need to take this initial stream of writing and refine it into something that resembles the original, while also changing it into something I am far prouder of. The biggest change I made to this poem were breaking what was originally a large stream of text into stanzas, all of which different in form, tone and content. I felt as though this would allow for better understanding of the thoughts present in the poem, while also generally just making it more visually appealing, and certainly easier to understand. I also ended up cutting a large section of the end of the poem which I felt actually took away from what would be a more ambiguous and ultimately more fitting ending. I also took time to alter words, change entire sentences, and manipulate the structure of sentences already written so that they would better fit a new form, or would reflect my initial ideas in a more succinct or cutting manner.

Ultimately, what started as one of my least favourite creations, through the process of some time away from it, and a more critical eye, rapidly became one of my most enjoyable. A new lease of life was breathed into the poem, and the initial raw emotion I seek so hard to preserve was actually made all the more apparent through the redrafting and finalising process. Though up until even just now as I upload it, I didn’t even consider it ‘finished’, I would say that if I were to, again, take the highlighter pen to it and joggle things around more, I would ruin what I have now; a poem that I am far more proud to assign my name to.

#poetry #poem #writing #blog #jelly

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